Perfumery has been a vital part of the Arab culture for thousands of years, and with the rise of Islam, the use of perfumery increased in the Arab world. Arabs and Persians would spend days travelling through the scorching desert to trade precious ingredients like saffron and wood. Other ingredients like amber, musk, henna, jasmine, frankincense (al lubaan), sandalwood and oud are vital in perfume making for Arabs. The Taif rose that grows in the valleys of Saudi Arabia is also a key ingredient.
Till today, the art of perfume making in the Arab world is still being preserved. You will smell the lingering aroma of their signature scents as they walk by you.
Arabian perfumes are traditionally alcohol-free. Apart from concentrated perfume oils, bakhoor or dukhoon (incense tablets), oud muattar (fragranced oud chips) and pure oud chips are very popular. The use of bakhoor is an Islamic tradition linked to the Prophet’s migration from Makkah to Madinah, when he was greeted with bakhoor and chants.
The Prophet encouraged both men and women to keep themselves and their homes smelling pleasant, encouraging the use of perfume before Friday prayers and as a symbol of hospitality. (Source: Gulf News).
Tips to wear perfume the Arabic way
- Mix up and layer your scents well to create your very own signature scent. Modern Arabs also use eau de parfums. You can layer different oils by dabbing them on your pulse points, spray on some eau de parfums and even incenses together to create a cloud of scented air around you. Get creative.
- Make sure to scent your body after it is washed and moisturized so that the smell lingers longer.
- Use bakhoor or oud muattar (fragranced oud chips) on your hair as well as your clothes. Although bakhoors are generally used for homes, Arabs love to use specific scents on their hair and clothes as well. Doing this enhances your scent without over applying one specific scent.